Tips for Community Management
Managing Communities (professional or casual), can require an insane amount of dedication to keep them growing, and active. It’s more than just taking charge of the community’s activities. It’s about creating a system where the members feel both welcome and in control. A dead community will lose members, while a thriving one will grow and evolve over time.
These days we have online tools that can help you with community management. Let’s take a look at a few tips we have that can help you digitize your community management experience so you can manage more members with fewer headaches.
Create Community Guidelines
Guidelines are a simple but highly important set of implied rules that must be agreed upon in any community that aims to thrive. Guidelines set expectations of actions not just for members, but for management as well. Guidelines help keep you on track to fostering a fair, decisive, and coordinated community that others can trust.
Community guidelines can be as simple as: be respectful to others, don’t share personal or sensitive information, etc. Or they can encompass anything that potentially leaves your organization open to legal penalties like following industry practices for professional communities, reserving the right to ban members, and so on.
One important aspect of community guidelines is that they are generally unchanging, and they set the precedence for moderation, communication, and any other rule pertaining to your community. When writing community guidelines it’s important to think about every angle of potential member engagement, where certain things can be protected, and those actions that require punishment for the foreseeable future.
A lot of communities have online webinars or seminars for new members that act as orientation modules so that the guidelines can be taught to them more succinctly. This is a great way to keep members informed of the guidelines without assuming that they’ve read them on their own.
Guidelines can only dictate the limits of power and precedence in a community, but actively growing a community takes a little more finesse. Members of a community are there to communicate with others, and if you’re not fostering communication and networking, then the community will likely fail quickly.
Fostering Networking is an important aspect of communities; particularly in online communities where face to face interaction is not standard. Online forums, events, chat groups, bulletin boards, and webinars, are great places that once arranged with a certain amount of moderation, can become quite active and in a lot of cases can be the core attraction to a community.
Communities are increasingly looking for ways to keep in touch with each other online rather than just in-person meetings as this gives a level of freedom to engage whenever and wherever the member may be. A discussion can die at the end of an event, but if there’s a way for that discussion to move online, its longevity, and therefore its value to your community is increased.
Host Events & Webinars
Events are a great way to take a singular topic that can drive the discussions you want. They’re highly engaging and they can even be a point of ROI for communities looking for more options to fund their growth. As we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, webinars are also a growing trend with events.
Creating an event based on a certain topic can help drive discussion and activities that benefit your members, as well as help your community attract new members. Hosting events is another great way to make your community the voice of your industry or genre, while also helping foster networking as we mentioned before. Events can be as small as an orientation for a few new members or as large as conferences and expos.
Community engagement online and offline are most generally at events, and so it’s important to host and manage your event professionally while bridging the online and offline engagement. This means creating an event website, sending invitation emails, ticketing, analytics, and more.
Broadcasting news, promoting products and services, sharing content, and other ways of blasting communique to your community members act as a way to keep them in the loop. Keeping members in the loop doesn’t necessarily help attract new members, rather it’s a way to keep members who were close to forgetting the community exists reminded that the community is still active.
It keeps members in the know for upcoming events, aware of news relevant to them, and it even serves as a great way to deliver promotions that benefit members. A newsletter is a great way to start, as a monthly low-down on everything related to your community, but news broadcasting can be done in a myriad of different creative ways like social media posts, chat group messages, posts in a forum, and more.
It seems like a no brainer, but a whole month going by without any activities, communication, or any visible sign of change in the community can cause major issues, members to leave, or an entire collapse of a community. Humans are sensory, and in a world of constant content-white-noise online and in the real world, and members who see a lack of anything relevant in the community will very quickly decide to leave once they take notice.
So, it’s important to be regular. Set a schedule for those activities that can benefit from a schedule like social media posts, blog posts, events, and newsletters. Leave room for any ad-hoc communication, and generally, the community will be in a constant state of activity from the management side, which in turn will impact the activity from members.
Analyze the Data
At the back-end of things, it’s important to analyze data that you can collect from your community. Reviewing surveys and web data can help paint a great image of your community’s trends and activities. A great example of using data to a community’s benefit is with events, where online-to-offline activities can be tracked with the right tools in order to encourage more attendee registrations.
If you have a website that can handle online registrations, and that same system for registrations is used for check-in at the event, sometimes even with a simple QR code scan, then it can be simple to see which promotion method provides the higher number of attendees registrations. Small indications like these within the data can help to make decisions like which channel should get a marketing budget, what content members like best, and so on.
To do this requires a range of tools that once integrated together, can provide the necessary data. Some data can be stand-alone and still plenty helpful, like how the performance of email campaigns are based on small changes between 2 of the same type, called A/B tests. Testing if one title works better than another, all other things staying the same, one can know which title worked best in a given campaign.